- This will be Birmingham City’s first competitive fixture of 2017, with the WSL Spring Series set to start in April. They were knocked out at this stage last season by eventual champions Arsenal, but enjoyed an impressive 2016 Super League season to finish in fourth place.
- Whereas Birmingham’s Super League status has granted them passage straight through to the fifth round, West Brom have had to negotiate four ties already. They are currently ninth in the Premier League Northern Division after a bad run, just two spots off the bottom, although they do have games in hand on everyone else in the league.
A case could be made for saying that West Brom should be more match-sharp than their rivals, having played 11 league games and a host of cup ties this season. However, they have not yet come up against a side from one of the top two tiers and, apart from their cup performances, have been inconsistent all season. Craig Nicholls’ team have also struggled for goals in the league, and face a tough task to break down a Birmingham side whose success in 2016 was built on the foundation of a solid defence.
The Blues have had a busy winter and there have been several players coming in and out, which will leave fans with a sense of uncertainty but also excitement over how the new season will unfold. The signings of England international Ellen White, in addition to the highly-rated Paige Williams, Sarah Mayling and Emma Follis, have freshened up a squad which will be ambitious to push on from last season, and it is hard to see anything other than a convincing victory for the hosts.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Birmingham to win to nil